When Covid-19 gutted Famiglia Baldassarre’s wholesale pasta business and put their modest restaurant on hold too, owner Leandro Baldassarre was forced to go all-in on retail-, its third and formerly smallest revenue stream.
“We were 50-per-cent-plus wholesale before,” he says. “Shifting to almost-all-retail was weird. But hey, it helped.”
Baldassarre’s sensational pasta and his Netflix cameo as chief pasta maker at Dal Pescatore, the legendary three-Michelin-starred restaurant in Lombardy, helped make him a local legend in Toronto. Lineups for his takeout and coveted handful of no-reservation restaurant tables would start forming outside the Geary Street commissary an hour before service — rain or shine.
Now, his frozen pasta and just a few well-curated plates — Ragù Mantovano, say, or Ravioli di Ricotta e Spinaci, sauced with either butter and Reggiano, or Tomato Sughetto — announced daily via Instagram, are served takeout-style only. “I learned that in Italy,” Baldassarre says. “Simplicity. Don’t overcomplicate things.” As the weather gets warmer, look out. “I’m gonna get as many tables and chairs as I can buy and just line Geary.” Get there early.
Photo credit: (Famiglia Baldassarre) Leandro Baldassarre